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Auto Dealers Report Boost in Sales from Cash for Clunkers

July 25, 2009

Dealers Surveyed also Say Buyers and Dealers Need More Information about the Program

Redwood City, CA, July 23, 2009 – In a nationwide survey conducted earlier this week, three out of ten dealers report having made a sale involving a “Cash for Clunkers” voucher even though the rules about how the program will be administered won’t be issued until tomorrow (Friday, July 24, 2009). However, the clarity those rules will provide is still needed: Nearly 90% of dealers said consumers had either low or moderate awareness of the program, and two thirds (66%) said information given to dealers up until this point is “insufficient.”

The survey, conducted by Dealix, a division of Cobalt, and a leading provider of automotive sales leads for dealers, dealer groups, and manufacturers, shows that dealers remain hopeful that the CARS (Car Allowance Rebate System) bill signed into law by President Obama on June 24, will spur sagging new car sales. The bill will provide vouchers of up $4,500 to buyers exchanging cars that achieve less than 18 miles per gallon for new, fuel-efficient models. While the survey results document interest among consumers, dealers were vocal about their need for additional information.

In addition to the 34% of respondents who said their dealership had made a sale involving a to-be issued voucher, dealers reported that the program has increased shopping activity and that auto buyer interest in the program is strong:
• 68% of respondents reported an increase in traffic to their showrooms, and 65% reported an increase in interest online, as demonstrated in more sales leads generated from their own and independent, or third party, websites.
• Over 90% reported consumer interest, with 34% saying that buyers have shown “a lot” of interest in the program, and 56% reported that consumers have shown “some” interest.

The CARS program received initial funding of $1 billion, which is predicted to cover approximately 250,000 vouchers plus program administration fees, and there has been speculation that funds would be depleted well before the November 1 expiration of the act. However, dealers responding to the survey did not predict a rapid depletion of program funds:  
• 43% of survey respondents predicted funding will still be available on November 1;
• Another 37% expected all vouchers to be claimed by the end of September.
• Only 20% of correspondents expected vouchers to be depleted by the end of August.

The dealers’ expectations on these timeframes may have been influenced by their belief that information about the program has been insufficient for both consumers and for the dealer community.
• The majority – 90% – of respondents said that consumer understanding of the bill was either low (61%) or moderate (34%).
• Two thirds (67%) of dealer respondents said information from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) to the dealers has been “insufficient.”

The NHTSA has noted several times that finalization of key elements of the bill – including how dealers will be authorized to issue vouchers, and how fuel-inefficient cars will be scrapped once exchanged for vouchers – would require time to finalize, and established July 24 as the target date to issue complete details. In the meanwhile, the association has established a website – cars.gov – to extend information and has paired with the North American Dealer Association (NADA) to conduct webinars about the program.

“The CARS Act promises to help the nation’s dealers and is clearly already producing results for some,” commented Anna Zornosa, general manager of Dealix. “However, for the Act to result in 250,000 new car sales this year, dealers need to be armed with all the information they need, and tools to educate buyers.”

To help dealers and consumers take advantage of the CARS program, Dealix publishes a blog entitled CashforClunkers.org, and has also posted a recording of a recent webinar it hosted on the subject with Edmunds.com, in addition to other materials, on Dealix.com. Dealers who would like a copy of the most recent survey results can send an email to [email protected] with “survey results” in the subject line.

About Dealix
Dealix, a division of Cobalt, is the world’s leading provider of quality sales leads for new and used cars for dealerships, dealer groups, and automotive manufacturers, connecting them with the millions of car buyers who prefer independent Internet sites when shopping for new cars and used cars online. Dealix’s New Car and UsedCars.com Networks comprise the broadest reach to the highest quality lead supply in the industry, including Yahoo! Autos, Kelley Blue Book, Edmunds.com, AOL Autos, MSN Autos, and other top auto buying sites. Dealix powers the Yahoo! Autos, AOL Autos, and MSN Autos dealer selector and price quote platforms, and represents Edmunds.com’s Premier Dealer Program. The Dealix Lead Platform verifies all consumer information in the leads chosen for distribution, and provides the fastest lead delivery in the industry.


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